trying to remain consistent while rebelling against consistency
For the many years I have tried to "brand" myself as an actor/writer/performance artist beyond my local community, I have been on the popular destinations for gathering attention. I have profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, New Play Exchange, and even Mastodon. With the exception of the last, which has been futile thus far, I have also had more than one incarnation of each of these sites.
My "social" Facebook currently has 42 friends on it. Yesterday (it is past midnight as I try to compose this) I did post some content on my main page, but, in general, I'm not overexposed on Facebook. I try to use it as a catch-all for random thoughts that are not placed elsewhere, but this also has led to unsolicited advice (just don't) and that fucking care emoticon. Who knows how many versions of my Facebook I have had over the fourteen years since I first tried it. I never had a ridiculous amount of friends on there, but a combination of anyone I've ever had on there would make for a decent tapestry of the totality of my life. However, I have closed profiles, unfriended people with whom I was in a mutually ignoring one another relationship on social media, and tried to restart from scratch. I sometimes regret those choices, but I also remember that I wasn't re-requested. I had a couple versions of Due Credit Productions as a group. I had hoped to build a subset of artistic friends who could all be artistic together. Like most social media, it just became another dumping ground for my own agenda. I do have a page in my name that is intended to promote my career. Resources tell me to have this. It currently has 14 followers, but many of them have been big supporters of mine. It's a nice foundation, but it is not recognizable as a beacon for my artistry. I created the page as a way to not clutter up my main profile with announcements of upcoming work or to share current work. I have shared a couple 'new pieces,' but I'm also engaging in a "I think I'm more famous than I am" show of 're-releasing' my favorite performances (of mine) that have been recorded. [Oh, how I regret not arranging for my July performance to be recorded.] Perhaps, hopefully, in the new year, the page can refresh itself with new work and new announcements only. There is only so much benefit in revisiting past success.
Instagram. I haven't figured out how to make that work for me, either. I think about six years ago I first ventured into Instagram. My first account actually brought me followers from two working actors. I don't know how they found me. But, somewhere along the way, I got rid of that profile and started fresh, more than once. Although I most likely deleted photos, my oldest photo on my current profile is nineteen weeks old. I have no real sense of why that is so, but nineteen weeks (and likely more) ago I needed to have the word actor be part of my profile name. I've also heard that my name should be consistent across all platforms. It is, to a degree, but I think already taken Matt Cogswells (how dare they!) are to blame. [An IMDB page that has a couple of my credits also lists a performance that is clearly not mine.] Advice on Instagram marketing says to not have too many selfies. Yet, it seems that those people are the ones who have thousands of followers. Then there are the celebrities who have millions. I have 33, marking my highest current count across all my platforms. I'm not counting here my 37 followers on LinkedIn because I will never understand why that is my most popular venue. I once wrote people would rather see me as an educator than as an artist. That is a whole other issue. One artist I follow has 355 followers, another 778, another 2073. Their secret? Consistency. For some at least, their pictures go way back in time. Now since I am also a quiet part of the LGBTQIA community, I access profiles on apps that link Instagram accounts. The numbers of followers for some of them are ridiculous. They're also attractive people who post nude or suggestive photos. I haven't gone there. Yet. I can't seem to find my fitting within this community, and it's beyond the scope of this reflection to explore that. I have media links on two apps. It has drawn some attention. I'm grateful when it happens, but it hasn't increased my following anywhere. I currently have only eleven pictures, and four of them are selfies. This made me think of a line from this performance that you will have to watch: https://youtu.be/VeEbH_vELQs
Moving on to Twitter. A successful writer I know once described Twitter as yelling into a void where only people who agree with you yell back. My current Twitter has six followers. It also has fifty-two posts. Most of my posts are shout-outs to working actors. Some are self-promotions. None of them are political. None of them comment upon others' actions (outside of performances). None of them alienate. This may explain why no one is listening. It is disheartening to see statistics of how many people see my tweets and, moreso, how many people open my profile and still decide to not follow or even 'like' it. I hate Twitter. I don't know why I go on it. It has done nothing for me. But, it does provide links for others to find out more about my artistry, and "they" tell me to have a social presence.
I began to embrace YouTube too late in the game. I think my first video was sometime around 2016. That video and so much more work have been lost to the fates. Some were just deleted and never downloaded to an accessible location I could access once my laptop crashed. My old profile was never commercially successful, but I did have fifty followers, which is more than twice the amount I have now. Seeing statistics on there is depressing, too. YouTube shows you exactly how long your videos are actually watched. One recent nearly six-minute video was watched for thirty-three seconds. This is not an unusual event. I don't take much stock in 'views' because that doesn't tell the whole story. "They" also tell me to be consistent with my content to gain viewers. Well, I'm a man of many talents, admittedly some stronger than others, so fuck that advice. I don't stray too far from my performance artist image. I don't post ridiculous reaction videos or show pet reactions, which is probably why I don't have a following. [I am also on TikTok, but my 29 videos (mostly ones from my YouTube) have had 5,783 'views,' and garnered 97 likes and 4 followers.] Like Instagram, I am not on brand for these outlets to be effective for me.
New Play Exchange and I have a difficult relationship. I am on my second incarnation of it. I was never exactly popular. I received very few recommendations in comparison to most people on there that I've seen. When I thought I was going to let it go again after another paid year of receiving fewer recommendations than the amount of dollars spent to keep my plays on there, I deleted my content and thus, recommendations. My profile of eight plays have no validation. Today I reviewed a play. I've done thirty-five recommendations in my time there. Those remain even when you delete your own content. There is something quite telling about that. I don't expect it to do any good. I think my membership is about to end, and I'll have to decide if I want to shell out $12 again for intermittent recognition.
All of these 'sites' (except the truly futile one) are linked in some way across each other and on my website Performance Artist | Matt Cogswell (duecreditproductions.com). I keep this site because traffic is drawn to it. It's linked on casting databases as well. Someone out there is at least looking.
The hustle is challenging. Living far from locations where professional acting opportunities are and not having a secure enough financial situation to be in that situation, I rely on social media and databases to get work. I still often want to just abandon all efforts. I always come back to them, though, and I have to stop trying to reinvent and start from scratch. It's healthier just to take breaks and reconnect when something new presents itself.
As I sit here past 1:20 in the morning I look around this office and see all these reminders of who I truly am. Now if I could only get work being who I truly am.